Here's the next chapter. I somehow got it out before the day was over. I'll have more time to work on the next chapter at this rate. Some new characters and a bit of character development too. Sadly, the background I gave on Yuki isn't as deep. I'll have to work on that. I'll add to the character bios tomorrow, too sleepy at this point.
P.S. Happy Valentines Day to whoever celebrates it.
Edit: Updated Character information for Yuki and Tsubaki with details from this chapter. Will update again for the newer characters after Chapter 12 is out.
Edit: Updated Character information for Yuki and Tsubaki with details from this chapter. Will update again for the newer characters after Chapter 12 is out.
The fairy sits down on the tip of a tree branch on a fallen log. Yuki sits down in front of her.
Fairy: "First off, it's nice to meet you. My name is Moonglitter Slyph."
Yuki: "Yes! Nice to meet you! I'm Awai Yuki!"
They bow to one another as they introduce themselves.
Slyph: "Then I hope you don't mind if I start asking you some questions?"
Yuki: "Gladly!" Yuki can barely restrain her excitement. She coughs to take on a more serious tone. "I mean, please go ahead."
Slyph giggles. "Thank you. I heard that you're a F ranked human from the other world with very little magical ability."
Yuki: "...Yes..." Yuki shrinks at hearing her own background.
Slyph: "You're trying to make a reverse contract to be fed magic and develop your own ability? Something that's never been done before."
Yuki: "...............Yes......." Yuki is barely able to stifle her groan as she attempts to make herself even smaller.
Slyph: "What makes you think it will work?"
Yuki: "...Rose, the girl in white, is our teacher. She's the one that recommended we search out partners to develop our abilities. We trust her judgement with anything magic related since we do not understand very much. She's extremely experienced despite her appearance."
Slyph: "She did give that impression to me too. But I wonder if I can trust such an absurd plan that no one has ever heard about before? Especially from a nameless individual… Even though I feel like I recognize her." Slyph mutters the last sentence so softly that it doesn't leave her lips.
Yuki: "Sara, my friend there with Rose, told me that Rose is an A rank individual. So she should have a strong understanding of magic."
Slyph: "What?! A rank!! And she's a human?!"
Yuki: "Huh? No she specifically said she isn't a human, but a clay doll. I think she used to live in the magical world before, but I'm not sure."
Slyph: "Doll? It looks like there's not a lot of things clear with this Rose."
Yuki: "Haha." Yuki bitterly laughs. "Sorry I couldn't answer more. We've been avoiding asking Rose about too much since it seems like we shouldn't pry into her background that much."
Slyph: "Then I will ask about that later. It is very important. *Ahem* Next question. What do you want to learn magic for?"
Yuki: "...... I don't know. I'm interested in magic as a whole, but don't what I want to do it yet."
Slyph: "Do you not have any goals right now then?"
Yuki: "...I don't. My only friends Sara and Tsubaki are learning magic. I do not wish to be left behind since I've made such good friends and want to keep up with them. Right now all I can do is follow them as fast as I can."
Slyph: "I see..."
Silence ensues as Slyph starts to think to herself. Yuki fidgets under the silence anxiously waiting for a response.
Slyph: “If we form a contract, you’ll mostly be living in the human world? Not in this world, correct?”
Yuki: “Ah yes. My family is lives on the other side. I don’t know if I’m ready to just move to this world just yet.”
Slyph: “Last question then. It doesn’t have to be right away, but when you are strong enough can you help me search the magic world?”
Yuki: “I don’t mind. But what are you looking for?”
Slyph: “My family, my friends, my village members… Around forty years ago, I was out of the village gathering some herbs. When I came back my entire village was destroyed. Every home was shattered beyond repair. I spent day and night looking for someone to no avail. Not even a single person’s dead body appeared. I begged the nearby pixie tribe to help me, but we never found anything. I was forced to relocate to the pixie tribe and live there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to really connect with them, so I’ve been living on my own.”
Yuki: “Is the pixie tribe really that different from your race?”
Slyph: “It’s more… an issue of personality. The pixies like to have fun and play pranks on others. I’ve always been more hard working. Even now I still try and search for signs of my family.”
Yuki: “Slyph-chan is a lot like me. I was very isolated from all the other kids because of my hair and eye color. I always felt out of place because they seemed afraid of me. That is until I met my current friends, they didn’t mind my appearance and got along with me easily… I would be honored to help you search for your family. Of course I’ll convince my friends to help too.”
Slyph: “Thank you. Then I would be honored to be your partner.”
Slyph flies in front of Yuki and outstretches her hand. Yuki does the same, but with the difference in size Slyph is only able to hold Yuki’s index finger with both hands. They shake and smile at one another.
Slyph: “Now I don’t know how to perform this special contract, so we will have to find your friend Rose-san.”
Yuki: “Okay!” Yuki jumps up with enthusiasm. Slyph lands on Yuki’s shoulder as they go to find Rose.
Tsubaki arrives at the base of a mountain and sees five children that look around six years old playing with one another. The five of them are all pale skinned with patches of dirt on them in various places. All of them wear leather clothing on their bodies. The five of them stop running around as they see Tsubaki and carefully watch her. The tallest boy in the group walks up to Tsubaki.
Boy elemental: “Nee-chan, who are you?”
Tsubaki: “Um… My name is Tsubaki. I’m a human. I’m exploring a bit and wanted to take a break. Can I join in your games?”
Boy elemental: “You want to play with us? Mmm…” The boy turns around and talks with his friends. They finish talking and he faces Tsubaki again. “Okay. We’re playing tag right now. You have to be ‘it’ if you want to play with us.”
Tsubaki: “Okay.” Tsubaki agrees easily. She knows their size difference gives her a large advantage in the game.
Boy elemental: “Then we get a three second head start.” The kids scatter immediately.
Tsubaki watches calmly as the kids run about. After three seconds, she jogs slowly to make the game fair. She corners one girl against the mountainside. As Tsubaki approaches, the girl’s hands start to glow brown as she bends down and speedily tunnels into the ground. Tsubaki runs up to the hole in shock, but is unable to see the end. Behind her, the girl pops out of the ground ten meters away. Tsubaki redirects her attention to another nearby child and runs at them more seriously. However, the result ends up the same, whenever Tsubaki corners a child, the child tunnels into the ground escaping from sight leaving Tsubaki unable to follow. Tsubaki eventually falls to the ground exhausted from all the fruitless running.
Boy elemental: “Nee-chan, you suck! You can’t even catch one person.”
Tsubaki: “Sorry. I didn’t expect you would use magic in the game.”
Boy elemental: “Of course we do. Everyone uses magic.”
Tsubaki: “…Haha…” Tsubaki bitterly laughs at the boy’s expected viewpoint. “I can’t use magic yet.”
Boy elemental: “What? You’re no fun then. We…”
A loud shattering noise resounds as small rocks start to fall from above. Tsubaki and the kids move away from the mountain side to avoid the rocks. Silence returns to the mountain side as the rocks stop falling.
Tsubaki: “What was that?!”
Boy elemental: “That Eru’s being noisy again.”
Tsubaki: “Eru? Who’s that?”
Boy elemental: “The girl training up there. She’s always playing by herself. All the grown-ups hate her too.”
Tsubaki: “Why do they hate her?”
Boy elemental: “Don’t know. But she’s boring cause she’s always training and never plays.”
Tsubaki: “Hmm…” The ‘always training’ peaks Tsubaki’s interest as she looks up the mountain size. “Hey, I want to see this Eru. How do I get up there?”
Boy elemental: “There.” He points to a small tunnel on the side.
Tsubaki walks over to the tunnel and crouches to look inside. She frowns at the small size of the tunnel and its dark depths. A ringing sound reverberates through her ears. Her screen suddenly opens in front of her eyes with a phone call from Rose. Tsubaki accepts the call and a video display of Rose appears.
Rose: (Hi~ You doing okay over there?)
Tsubaki: “Yes, I think so. What happened?”
Rose: (Nothing happened. Sara was worried, so I’m giving you some more advice. First thing is that the earth elementals have special tunneling abilities because of their affinity.)
Tsubaki: “I know that already. I saw them escape me many times when I was playing with them.”
Rose: (I see. But make sure you never try and go into their tunnels by trying to follow them. The normal tunnels twist too many times for the human body to actually progress though. Some points even shrink to the size of your head making it impossible for your body to pass through.)
Tsubaki: “That’s a problem then. I have to scale the mountain directly then.”
Rose: (That’s the second piece of advice. The bracelet I gave you has an extra feature. If you fall while climbing just direct the bracelet down and it will automatically release wind to help break your fall. Same for if you lose your grip. You can use a burst of wind to regain your balance. I can’t do anything to help with your fear of heights, so you’ll have to get through with your effort.)
Tsubaki: “Ahh. That does help. Thanks Rose.”
Rose: (Okay. That’s all for advice. Good luck.)
The screen disappears as Rose ends the call. Tsubaki walks over to the mountain side where the rocks fell from.
Boy elemental: “Nee-chan, you’re really going to climb up there.”
Tsubaki: “Y-yeah. N-no choice.” One of her hands starts to tremble heavily. She uses the other hand to hold it and stifle the shaking. “Don’t look down. Just focus on getting up there.” She recites in her mind as she attempts to calm herself.
Tsubaki steadies herself as she grips the rock wall and propels herself upwards. She carefully grips outcropping rocks and she climbs the rock walls. After climbing several meters, she pauses to catch her breath and steady her nerves. She barely is able to resist looking down, trembling at the thought of falling. She repeats the process every few meters or so. At fifteen meters, Tsubaki’s breathing becomes heavy from both her exhaustion and her nerves. Tsubaki climbs several more meters before her hand finally slips. On reflex, Tsubaki inadvertently looks down at the ground. Fear fills every fiber of her being as she sees the dizzying height.
Tsubaki screams at the top of her lungs. She flails her free arm desperately trying to grip the rock surface again completely forgetting about Rose’s advice. A girl leans her head over the ledge above Tsubaki.
Girl: “Hello? Onee-chan, what are you doing?”
Tsubaki looks up with tears in her eyes. “Help!”
Girl: “Okay! Just hold on.” The girl pulls her head back disappearing from view. “[Earth Hand]”
A giant hand made of soil and rock forms from the side of the cliff appearing directly under Tsubaki. It gradually moves upward providing Tsubaki with a stable platform to stand on. The hand moves up to the ledge and further away from the edge before sinking back down to the ground. Tsubaki grips herself the entire time trembling. The girl looks at Tsubaki with a questioning look.
Girl: “Are you okay?”
Tsubaki: “T-t-thank you. Heights are so scary!!”
Girl: “How come you didn’t come from there?” The girl points at the tunnel.
Tsubaki: “It’s too small for me.”
Girl: “Then, why not make it bigger?”
Tsubaki: “…Heh?” Tsubaki’s thoughts freeze up at the unexpected advice. She stands up and screams. “ROSE!!! YOU TRICKED ME!!!!!” The girl covers her ears at the loud scream. “I should have asked them to help me with the tunnel.” Tsubaki falls to her hands and knees thinking of the horrifying trek up the cliff.
Girl: “The other kids down there? They won’t help you come up here. They hate Eru after all. Eru meant why didn’t Onee-chan make it bigger?”
Tsubaki: “Ahh… I don’t know magic yet.”
Girl: “Okay. Eru understands. Is Onee-chan feeling better now?”
Tsubaki: “Yes. Thank you for all the help.”
Tsubaki takes a better look at the girl now that she's calmed down. The girl looks around six years olds like the other kid, but her skin color is more of a brownish tone compared to the other kids. She has short, light brown hair and bright emerald green eyes. She wears leather clothing like the other kids, but her clothes are visibly more ragged and torn. In her hands is a large steel sledgehammer twice her height.
Tsubaki: "My name is Tamura Tsubaki. I'm a human. It's nice to meet you."
Girl: "Eru's name is Steelhammer Erutie. Eru is a part of the gnome race. Nice to meet you, Tsubaki Onee-chan. So… why was Tsubaki Onee-chan coming up here for?"
Tsubaki: "A bunch of rocks fell down earlier. The kids down there told me about you, so I was curious to meet you and see what you're doing."
Erutie: "Eru was training. Sorry about the rocks, Eru was testing a new attack."
Tsubaki: "That's okay. But why train up here instead of on the ground."
Erutie: "The adults hit Eru if I stay on the ground. So Eru trains alone up here."
Tsubaki: "H-hit you? Why do they hit you?"
Erutie: "Mmm... Tsubaki onee-chan are you looking for a familiar? My parents told me that humans only visit this place for a partner."
Tsubaki freezes at the unexpected question. Rose mentioned to her to avoid bringing the topic up first, but Erutie already brought up the topic. Tsubaki hesitates to lie to her.
Tsubaki: "Yes. I'm here to find a partner."
Erutie: "Why do you need a partner?" Erutie tilts her head looking at Tsubaki.
Tsubaki: "I want to learn magic. My teacher told me to find a partner to help me learn magic faster. I'm from the human world so I don't know anything about magic until a little while ago."
Erutie: "Why learn magic though? The human world don't need magic because they have other stuff. That's what my parents taught me."
Tsubaki: "...I'm weak. When I was little, a lot of bad people tried to get me. My dad got hurt a lot because of me. I'm almost an adult, but I'm still too weak to do anything. Even though I tried hard to get stronger, I still can't do anything. So I want to learn magic to help me be stronger."
Erutie: "Hmm...... Nee, Tsubaki onee-chan. When you get a partner, will you be staying in this area permanently?"
Tsubaki: "Ehh? Um, I'm just here to find a partner. We planned to be here two days, but we're going back to the human world after. I don't know if I'm ready to move to this world just yet."
Erutie: "Okay. Then can Eru be your contract partner then?"
Tsubaki: "Eh?! You want to be my partner?"
Erutie: "Yeah. Tsubaki onee-chan is a lot like Eru. Eru can help Tsubaki onee-chan and Tsubaki onee-chan can help Eru too."
Tsubaki: "Okay!" The two of them shake hands. "Ah! …Can I ask why everyone here hates you?"
Erutie frowns as her mouth trembles. She reluctantly nods. "Okay... Five years ago, a mountain shrine was broken. The damage caused the cave and tunnels to crash down and kill many grown ups."
Tsubaki: "Wait! You kids dig into the ground so fast with your magic. How could it kill adults that have even stronger magic?"
Erutie stares at Tsubaki in disbelief, but remembers she's a human not an elemental. "The entire place around the shrine is built with special rock. You can't dig or break it without special tools and takes a whole day to make one crack."
Tsubaki: "Ahh. That is a big problem. Go on."
Erutie: "The grown ups that survived told Eru that Eru's parents broke the shrine. Everyone hates Eru because of Eru's parents and worry Eru will do the same thing." Tsubaki's eyes widen at the unexpected past. "...But, but Eru doesn't believe that Eru's parents are bad people. They were always nice and loving to Eru. Then they disappeared. Eru doesn't think it was Eru's parents that broke the shrine. Eru wants to find Eru's parents and find out what happened. To do that, Eru has to get a lot stronger, but staying here is dangerous. The grown ups hurt Eru a lot and no one helps Eru. So Eru wants to go with Tsubaki onee-chan and get stronger until Eru finds Eru's parents."
Tsubaki bites her lower lip. She tries to calm down and thinks things through, but a problematic possibility keeps appearing.
Tsubaki: "If...what if Erutie's parents broke the shrine to hurt people, what would you do?"
Erutie: "ERU'S PARENTS WOULDN'T DO THATTTTTT!!!!!! ERU'S PARENT'S ARE NICE PEOPLE!!!!!"
Tsubaki: "I know that! But I want to know. Just if they did, what would you do?"
Erutie bites her lower lip causing a drop of of blood to drip down her mouth. Her eyes tear up as she starts to cry.
Erutie: "If...if Eru's parents are really bad. Then Eru has to get strong enough to beat Eru's parents for being stupid and killing their friends."
Tsubaki sighs a bit realizing Erutie’s resolve. If the worst case result did occur, she wouldn’t go crazy when faced with the situation.
Tsubaki: "Sorry, I had to ask. Let's make a contract then? And you don't have to always call me Tsubaki onee-chan. That's too much."
Erutie: "Okay. We're partners then! Is Onee-chan okay then?"
Tsubaki: "Okay. And I'll call you Eru?"
Erutie: "Unn. Call me Eru. That's what my parents called Eru."
Tsubaki: "Good! Then how do we make a contract?"
Erutie: "Huh? Eru doesn't know. The human is supposed to be the one that does the contract part. That's what Eru was taught."
Tsubaki: "Ugh. Then let's go back to my teacher and have her show us."
Tsubaki: "How do we get down though? I'm too big for the tunnel."
Erutie: "Eru will make it big enough for Onee-chan to fit through."
Erutie starts expanding the tunnel as Tsubaki follows behind her. The two of them pass through the mountain and return to Sara and Rose's position.